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THL updates guidance, kids can skip Covid tests in certain circumstances

The THL now says that children under 12 should stay home from school if they are suffering from symptoms, but don't always need to be tested.

korona näytteenotto kamppi koronatesti testauspiste testausasema
Children may be able to skip Covid tests in certain circumstances, thanks to new THL guidance. Image: Yle / Maxim Fedorov

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has updated its guidance around children under 12, who are not yet eligible to receive Covid vaccines in Finland.

Those aged 12 or over should always seek a test if they are suffering from symptoms associated with Covid, according to THL.

But the institute now says that children under 12 should stay home from school if they are suffering from symptoms, but don't always need to be tested.

"Those with mild symptoms can stay home under observation without testing," said Emmi Sarvikivi, a Chief Physician at THL. "Symptoms are mild when the child is bright and able to play, even though he or she has for example a runny nose, a temperature or a cough. They should however avoid contacts outside the family until symptoms have cleared up."

Children can return to early education or school when they are clearly recovering, even before all symptoms have disappeared.

"A new infection is always cause to stay home, but if symptoms have clearly reduced and the child is lively, he or she can return to school or daycare," said Sarvikivi. "As with other viral infections, with Covid infectiousness reduces quickly after the onset of symptoms, and an ongoing runny nose or cough doesn't change that."

In daycare or school, an infection in the classroom setting is not regarded as exposing the whole class to Covid, according to THL.

In those situations, contact tracers investigate to clarify who has been in closest contact and is at greatest risk of infection.

"Previously in schools whole classes and groups have been quarantined based on the precautionary principle," said Sarvikivi. "The infection risk in schools has however been shown to be small. For example in the 2020-21 academic year only 1.9 percent of the 95,000 people exposed in daycare, school or another educational setting were infected."

Others in the same premises are not regarded as exposed, unless they were sitting close to the infected individual. They can be informed that there is a small risk, and urged to get a test if they suffer from symptoms, according to THL.

Final decisions on exposure and any necessary steps to take are taken by municipal or hospital district doctors, however.

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